Your search results

Three Weeks in Traffic Hell

Posted by Johnine Larsen on October 8, 2018
| 0

It’s official: on January 11, 2019, the Alaskan Way Viaduct will close for good. Three weeks later, the new SR-99 toll tunnel will open. But in that three-week gap, when 90,000 daily commuters have to find alternate routes, things are going to get ugly. Very ugly. Here’s the most helpful information we could find about how to minimize the traffic catastrophe:


What to expect

Traffic throughout downtown Seattle will be awful, and traffic throughout the rest of the region will be bad, as well.

The closure of SR-99 will divert traffic to I-5 and side streets, over-stressing an already traffic-choked system.

Rush hour, as a result, will start earlier and end later (6–10 a.m. and 3–7 p.m.).


What to do

Avoid rush hour (6–10 a.m. and 3–7 p.m.), and, if possible, adjust your work hours so you commute when no else is commuting.

Commute via public transit and park and rides, water taxis, vanpools, or walking. There are a few details you should know about those greener, traffic-friendly transit options:

  • RapidRide C (connects downtown and West Seattle) will move to surface streets, which will add 10 minutes to the ride from Alaska Junction to 3rd and Pike (increasing from the current 25 minutes to 35 minutes).
  • The restricted 3rd Ave bus corridor is transit-only all day, so all bus routes that pass through there shouldn’t face any congestion.
  • Uber and Lyft have carpooling options if a cheaper ride-share service won’t work for you. You might also consider bussing one way and using an app-based rideshare the other way, depending on what traffic is doing when you need to hit the road.

Get an ORCA card. If you do use public transit, an ORCA card will save you time and will make transfers paper-less and automatic.

SDOT suggests bicycling as a transportation alternative, but that sounds terrible in the middle of winter. If you do bicycle and combine that with public transit, make sure you know how to load your bicycle onto the bus (it’s harder than you might expect, especially when people are waiting on you).



What do the pros say? The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) created a handout for how to adjust your commute and travel habits.

How long will it take to get where you’re going? Get a travel time estimate here, updated in real time with an eye to traffic behavior in the future—not just traffic data at your time of departure.

What does traffic look like across Seattle? See a traffic map here, with traffic cameras so you can see conditions in detail for yourself.


What SDOT will do

While all of us are trying to survive traffic hell, the city will be working hard, too. SDOT and other organizations will do their best to facilitate alternative traffic solutions by focusing on:

Transportation system monitoring and real-time management. SDOT will have a 24/7 operations center constantly finding ways to get as many cars through as many intersections as possible. It will also coordinate with the Seattle Police Department to place police officers at important intersections to help drivers get through. They have said that they will prioritize transit over private vehicles.

Manage construction projects in the public right-of-way. SDOT will put strict limits on what streets constructions projects can close during this three-week SR-99 closure.

Work with commuters, employers, visitors, and Seattleites on their commute—and SDOT isn’t the only one doing this. Commute Seattle is offering free commute planning for downtown employers. Some options they’re encouraging include letting employees work from home or rentable co-working spaces near employees’ homes, shifting business hours to avoid rush hour, and offering unlimited OCRA cards to their employees.

  • Sarah Donaldson
    Sarah Donaldson
    18:44 18 Jul 19
    Darcie was such a joy to work with. She felt like family during the sale of our house and the search for our new home. We may have found our forever home, but if we ever need a Realtor in future, Darcie from Real Estate Gals will be our first call.
    Brian Heagler
    Brian Heagler
    16:55 02 Jun 19
    I have worked with Johnine and her team for 19 years and have always received personal, knowledgeable and professional service and attention! There is never and pressure and they will guide you away from a property when appropriate, which is always appreciated when a market is hot and the tendency is to move quickly. I trust them and have never been let down!
    Anne Slater
    Anne Slater
    18:03 25 May 19
    Johnine Larsen is fabulous! She listened and came up with ways we could get what we wanted in a house and stay within our limited budget. When we found the house we wanted, she moved super fast to get the house inspected and implemented creative ideas to make our offer appealing. And out of 13 offers, we were selected and got our house. I recommend her to anyone buying a home.
    Amy Burdick
    Amy Burdick
    19:13 24 May 19
    Real Estate Gals made sure we found our perfect house! Then, when we were up against other bidders, Johnine worked tirelessly to ensure we were tops! Her extensive real estate experience combined with exceptional character and integrity provided peace of mind throughout the process. She also made sure we received the right value as a seller and got the transaction done quickly and efficiently. Simply stated: there is nobody better to help you find your dream home.
    Bill Hollman
    Bill Hollman
    22:21 19 May 19
    I'd give Real Estate Gals 6 stars if I could. We have used them multiple times, both in selling and buying homes in Seattle and the surrounding area. I can't say enough about the professionalism, knowledge, and patience they bring to the task of buying a new home, or selling your current residence. And they know the Seattle area so well, they'll offer valuable insights into the pros and cons of any location you may be to considering. Look no further, call Johnine at Real Estate Gals. You will be glad you did!
    Beth Guerra
    Beth Guerra
    01:14 18 May 19
    Johnine was a breath of fresh air in the real estate market. She listened intently to our wishes and goals, and was tireless in her search for our perfect house. She is well versed in both Seattle and the surrounding areas. She made sure all the details were taken care of after the inspection, and made the closing process seamless. She even gifted us with a housewarming present. Nearly 7 years later, we still receive holiday cards and well wishes. I highly recommend Real Estate Gals and will look no further in the future.
    Aidan Key
    Aidan Key
    15:44 17 May 19
    Johnine and the Real Estate Gals brilliantly took us through the home buying process two different times. Their willingness to educate (I was new), hear our home hopes, and support us through the process are a few of the reasons that I highly recommend this team. Speaking of a team, I love their collaborative business model - it meant that we--the home buyers--always had a returned phone call and an ability to look at a house on OUR schedule. Truly felt like they place the customer first!
    See All Reviews